A staggering 9 million jobs have been furloughed as a result of the Government’s Furlough Scheme. However, now is the time to start thinking about how, as businesses, we plan to move forward as the economy slowly begins to show signs of life.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak recently presented his ‘Plan for Jobs’ to Parliament, outlining how the Government will boost job creation in the UK. As a provider of both HR and Recruitment services, we have a unique viewpoint across the entire employee lifecycle, and as Chief Operations Officer of The Curve Group I want to share my advice on what I think businesses should be focussing on as we step towards the ‘new normal’.
Keep your current staff (both those still working and those on furlough) engaged. Think about undertaking an employee survey to find out where they need support both mentally and physically. Ensure you have enough time and the ability to invest in responding to your employee’s needs and requests. Create an action plan and ensure that you follow through with the commitments you make.
Speak to your Line Managers about their plans for their functions and check that they are in line with the wider business strategy. Ask them where they may need new skills or talent in order to deliver their objectives. Remember, your existing team members are your future leaders and they help to shape new talent, so it is key to keep them informed and empowered to do so.
We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of requests from our clients’ employees asking to spend more time working at home in the long term or wanting to change their working hours
Expect questions from your current staff and potential new hires about changing working practices and their roles. It is highly likely that you will need to think about the longer-term impact and review job descriptions, roles and responsibilities and update your existing policies accordingly. We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of requests from our client’s employees asking to spend more time working at home in the long term or wanting to change their working hours.
Do your research on the Government’s new ‘Plan for Jobs’ schemes that are available which will help you to both retain current staff and hire new talent for your future:
a. A Job Retention Bonus of £1,000 per employee will be available if you are still employing them as of 31 January 2021
b. The Kickstart Scheme* will fully subsidise 6-month job placements for young people (those aged 16-24, claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment, will be eligible). You can top up their minimum wage salary / 25 hours per week if you wish to do so
c. A £2,000 incentive will be paid to you for each new apprentice you hire under the age of 25 – this is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the Government already provides for new 16-18-year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan
*If you want to create 30+ placements, you can apply directly to Gov.uk – if you want to create less than 30 placements, you must partner with an intermediary (i.e. a Chamber of Commerce, local authority, trade body or a registered charity) who will submit an application on your behalf (they will pool applications from businesses to reach the minimum of 30 placements required).
Be prepared to explain your decision to make new hires to your existing workforce
Despite the assumption that you would not have any requirements to hire due to the impact of Covid-19, you may now be starting to realise that you do need to bring different skill sets into your business to navigate the current landscape. You may also need to increase capacity in existing functions due to an unforeseen increase in demand. If you are considering making new hires, be prepared to explain your decision to do so to your existing workforce. Some may still be on furlough or may have seen colleagues made redundant. Just be honest, transparent, follow the correct HR process and open the roles up to internal applicants first.
Once you have established your hiring plans, think about how you onboard new starters into your current working environment. You may not physically be in the office and are likely to have some staff still on furlough. Given that it’s unlikely you’ll be able to provide full face to face inductions, think about how best to induct your new starters and make them feel welcomed, whilst providing access to the people and tools they need in order to do their job remotely. It’s a great excuse to revamp your entire induction process.
Think about how you measure and track performance in the new working environment – this applies both to existing staff who now work remotely, as well as new joiners i.e. apprentices who may not have experience of working remotely without supervision. You may find, like other businesses, that middle management are struggling to maintain the performance of their teams. They may benefit from additional training to help them to support their own teams more effectively i.e. how to adopt new working styles and patterns or establish new performance targets.
As an SME ourselves, we have been very focused recently on these topics in our own business so we know and understand how difficult it is to plan for these new considerations. What I can tell you is that it is always worth the upfront investment to get it as close as you can to right the first time.
If you want to talk to someone about making your own ‘Plan for Jobs’ for 2020, get in touch – I’m very happy to help.